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                          |  cppo: cpp for OCaml  |


Cppo is an equivalent of the C preprocessor for OCaml programs.
It allows the definition of simple macros and file inclusion.

Cppo is:

- OCaml-friendly (unlike cpp)
- easy to learn without consulting a manual (unlike m4 or camlp4)
- reasonably fast (unlike camlmix)
- simple to install and to maintain (unlike camlp4-based tools)

User guide

Cppo is a preprocessor for programming languages that follow lexical rules
compatible with OCaml.

Cppo supports a number of directives. A directive is a '#' sign placed
at the beginning of a line, possibly preceded by some whitespace, and followed
by a valid directive name or by a number:

  BLANK* "#" BLANK* ("define"|"undef"
                    |"ext"|"endext") ...

Directives can be split into multiple lines by placing a backslash \ at
the end of the line to be continued. In general, any special character
can used as a normal character by preceding it with backslash.

1. File inclusion

  #include ""

This is how a source file "" can be included.
Relative paths are searched first in the directory of the current file
and then in the search paths added on the command line using -I, if any.

2. Macros

This is a simple macro that doesn't take an argument ("object-like
macro" in the cpp jargon):

  #define Ms Mississippi
  match state with
      Ms -> true
    | _ -> false

After preprocessing by cppo, the code above becomes: 
match state with
      Mississippi -> true
    | _ -> false

If needed, defined macros can be undefined. This is required prior to
redefining a macro:

  #undef X

An important distinction with cpp is that only previously-defined
macros are accessible. Defining, undefining or redefining a macro has
no effect on how previous macros will expand.

Macros can take arguments ("function-like macro" in the cpp
jargon). Both in the definition (#define) and in macro application the
opening parenthesis must stick to the macro's identifier:

  #define debug(args) if !debugging then Printf.eprintf args else ()

  debug("Testing %i" (1 + 1))

is expanded into:

  if !debugging then Printf.eprintf "Testing %i" (1 + 1) else ()

Here is a multiline macro definition. Newlines occurring between
tokens must be protected by a backslash:

  #define repeat_until(action,condition) \
    action; \
    while not (condition) do \
      action \

All user-definable macros are constant. There are however two
predefined variable macros: __FILE__ and __LINE__ which take the value
of the position in the source file where the macro is being expanded.

  #define loc (Printf.sprintf "File %S, line %i" __FILE__ __LINE__)

Macros can be defined on the command line as follows:

  # preprocessing only
  cppo -D 'VERSION 1.0'

  # preprocessing and compiling
  ocamlopt -c -pp "cppo -D 'VERSION 1.0'"

3. Conditionals

Here is a quick reference on conditionals available in cppo. If you
are not familiar with #ifdef, #ifndef, #if, #else and #elif, please
refer to the corresponding section in the cpp manual.

  #ifndef VERSION
  #warning "VERSION is undefined"
  #define VERSION "n/a"
  #ifndef VERSION
  #error "VERSION is undefined"
  #if OCAML_MAJOR >= 3 && OCAML_MINOR >= 10
  #ifdef X
  #elif defined Y

The boolean expressions following #if and #elif may perform arithmetic
operations and tests over 64-bit ints.

Boolean expressions:

  defined ...    followed by an identifier, returns true if such a macro exists
  ( ... )
  ... && ...
  ... || ...
  not ...

Arithmetic comparisons used in boolean expressions:

  ... = ...
  ... < ...
  ... > ...
  ... <> ...
  ... <= ...
  ... >= ...

Arithmetic operators over signed 64-bit ints:

  ( ... )
  ... + ...
  ... - ...
  ... * ...
  ... /  ...
  ... mod ...
  ... lsl ...
  ... lsr ...
  ... asr ...
  ... land ...
  ... lor ...
  ... lxor ...
  lnot ... 

Macro identifiers can be used in place of ints as long as they expand
to an int literal, e.g.:

  #define one 1
  #if one + one <> 2
  #error "Something's wrong."

4. Source file location

Location directives are the same as OCaml and are echoed in the
output. They consist of a line number optionally followed by a file name:

  # 123
  # 456 "source"

5. Messages

Warnings and error messages can be produced by the preprocessor:

  #ifndef X
    #warning "Assuming default value for X"
    #define X 1
  #elif X = 0
    #error "X may not be null"

6. Calling an external processor

Cppo provides a mechanism for converting sections of a file using
and external program. Such a section must be placed between #ext and
#endext directives.

  $ cat foo
  #ext lowercase
  #ext lowercase
  $ cppo -x lowercase:'tr "[A-Z]" "[a-z]"' foo
  # 1 "foo"
  # 5 "foo"
  # 10 "foo"

In the example above, "lowercase" is the name given on the
command-line to external command 'tr "[A-Z]" "[a-z]"' that reads
input from stdin and writes its output to stdout.

7. Escaping

The following characters can be escaped by a backslash when needed: 

In OCaml # is used for method calls. It is usually not a problem
because in order to be interpreted as a preprocessor directive, it
must be the first non-blank character of a line and be a known
directive. If an object has a define method and you want # to appear
first on a line, you would have to use \# instead:


Line directives in the usual format supported by OCaml are correctly
interpreted by cppo.

Comments and string literals constitute single tokens even when they
span across multiple lines. Therefore newlines within string literals
and comments should remain as-is (no preceding backslash) even in a
macro body:

  #define welcome \

8. Concatenation

CONCAT() is a predefined macro that takes two arguments, removes any
whitespace between and around them and fuses them into a single identifier.
The result of the concatenation must be a valid identifier of the
form [A-Za-z_][A-Za-z0-9_]+ or [A-Za-z], or empty.

For example,

  #define x 123
  CONCAT(z, x)

expands into:


However the following is illegal:

  #define x 123
  CONCAT(x, z)

because 123z does not form a valid identifier.

CONCAT(a,b) is roughly the equivalent a##b in cpp syntax.

9. Stringification

STRINGIFY() is a predefined macro that takes one argument, removes any leading
and trailing whitespace, reduces each internal whitespace sequence to 
a single space character and produces a valid OCaml string literal.

For example,

  #define TRACE(f) Printf.printf ">>> %s\n" STRINGIFY(f); f
  TRACE(print_endline) "Hello"

is expanded into:

  Printf.printf ">>> %s\n" "print_endline"; print_endline "Hello"

STRINGIFY(x) is the equivalent of #x in cpp syntax.

10. Detailed command-line usage and options

Usage: ./cppo [OPTIONS] [FILE1 [FILE2 ...]]
  -D DEF
          Equivalent of interpreting '#define DEF' before processing the
          Equivalent of interpreting '#undef IDENT' before processing the
  -I DIR
          Add directory DIR to the search path for included files
  -o FILE
          Output file
          Identify and preserve camlp4 quotations
          Output line directives pointing to the exact source location of 
          each token, including those coming from the body of macro 
          definitions.  This behavior is off by default.
          Do not output any line directive other than those found in the 
          input (overrides -s).
          Print the version of the program and exit.
          Define a custom preprocessor target section starting with:
            #ext "NAME"
          and ending with:

          NAME must be a lowercase identifier of the form [a-z][A-Za-z0-9_]*

          CMD_TEMPLATE is a command template supporting the following
          special sequences:
            %F  file name (unescaped; beware of potential scripting attacks)
            %B  number of the first line
            %E  number of the last line
            %%  a single percent sign

          Filename, first line number and last line number are also
          available from the following environment variables:

          The command produced is expected to read the data lines from stdin
          and to write its output to stdout.
  -help  Display this list of options
  --help  Display this list of options

Martin Jambon <>
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